Where do I Start?
Land: The purchase of land is definitely the place to start. When choosing a piece of property, you shouldn’t just look for a place with a great view. Think about how far the services (electric, plumbing, and septic) are going to have to be run. Is the septic going to perk? Even if the view is great, the costs of running the services can be expensive and may significantly lower the budget for your home. Is there excessive rock? There is a community located about 7 miles from our home called Rockfield, KY. There is a reason why it is called Rockfield! Excessive rock can make putting in a foundation more expensive. This again takes away from the amount of money that you can spend on your project.
Money: If you are considering taking a loan to finance your project, we recommend contacting a log/timber frame mortgage lender. These loan officers understand the value of a log/timber frame home and understand why they can’t comp these houses against a traditional spec home in a subdivision. After determining the amount of money you plan to spend on your home, then speak with builders about your expectations and determine a floor plan that will fit your budget.
Building plan: Think about your age and future expectations for the home. If you will soon be looking at your golden years, then you might look for a plan all on one level and build your home with wheel chair accessibility. If you are looking for a place to entertain family and friends who visit, then think about a large kitchen and great room space. Also, if you want a home that is lower in maintenance but you still want an open floor plan with beam work, then consider a timber frame. Timber frames allow for a multitude of exterior finishes with breath taking beam work.
You should consider where your family spends the majority of their time and concentrate your finishes in these areas. This allows you to get the most bang for your buck.
If your budget doesn’t allow for a total log or timber frame, then consider a conventional stick frame home with some architectural beam work. This significantly lowers the overall costs for the home but allows for rustic elements in those areas of your home that are most important to you.
If you are trying to restore an old home or add an addition to an existing home, it is equally important to have a design and plan in hand before you begin the project. This will allow for continuity throughout the project.
A plan doesn’t have to be complicated in every case. It can be simply a floor plan denoting dimensions, passageways, and pertinent details to the project. We can provide all levels of design work from shop drawings and sketches to full blown architectural drawings and renderings.
What is the Difference Between Timber Frames and Log Cabins?
Many of the cabins that are built today are hybrids – a combination of log and timber. There are several types of log homes. Log cabins can be built from vintage (antique logs) or newly milled logs. Vintage log cabins offer years of drying and natural character that can’t be replicated in a new log home. A new log home offers the ability to produce logs of long lengths and are easily attainable unlike old logs or cabins.
The cabins, which have the chinking between the logs, are like the Appalachian style cabins that were built over a hundred years ago. These log cabins have a unique character not found in other log construction styles. Their dovetailed corners, wide faced logs and exposed rafters give them an unmistakable look.
On our old cabins that we reconstruct, we use a special blended chinking that will give years of dependable service with proper maintenance. However, on our replicated cabins with new logs, like those produced by Hearthstone log homes, we use Perma-Chink brand products that give a historic look with little maintenance. The chinking allows for the logs to naturally expand and contract from season to season. For convenience, we use the space between the logs to run electrical wiring. One great thing about the chink joint is it allows for a much better job of sealing out moisture and air with expandable foam and insulation.
We also offer round on round, D-log, Swedish cope log, and natural handcrafted log construction. These types of log systems all have their own unique qualities and benefits. These log cabins may be better suited for your building tastes, budget, environment, or possibly an addition on your existing structure.
Timber frames provide wide open space with breathtaking beam work by using a combination of authentic peg joinery and powerful structural steel hardware. This joinery and/or hardware can be used to create added interest in the beam work and the overall project and can make a statement all by itself.
Timber frames are very energy efficient when covered with structural insulated panels. If cost is a major concern, then timber frames can be combined with stick framing and conventionally insulated. Timber frames are not limited to straight lines. You can have massive vaulted ceilings with curved beams either sawn or laminated. The timber species isn’t limited by any means to pine or oak; however, these are the two most common materials used in most timber frames. Burk Construction has used reclaimed timbers that were resawn and planned. We have used vintage antique hand hewn timbers to build unique timber frames. One of our favorite materials to work with is “standing dead” Douglas Fir. This material is extremely stable and naturally dried in the forest to less than 20% moisture level.
One of our specialties is “non load bearing architectual beam work” that transforms your project into a
work of art. These beams could simply run across the ceiling, or they could be a complicated system of trusses and bracework. These architectural beams can be installed in a conventionally built home to add dimension and style.
We have outlets and suppliers all over the country for every species imaginable. So whether you are looking for a pure white oak frame, a vintage heart pine mantle, a set of American chestnut beams to build trusses in your library, a Western Cedar pergola for outdoor living space, or “pickled” white pine architectural beams for your kitchen ceiling, Burk Construction can find the material you are looking for!
What is the Cost of a Log or Timber Frame Home?
There is little difference in the overall cost of a log home vs. a timber frame home. Finishes mainly drive the cost of a home. Most of the projects we’ve been involved with were perfect examples of this. About 15-25% was site development and infrastructure. About 25% was structural. The remaining 50-60% was the interior and exterior finishes. Finishes include: all skin, floors, cabinets, masonry work, fixtures, closets, appliances, trim, stairs, paint, counters, gutters, HVAC, hot water, dimmers, and everything else in between!
To control the cost of your project is to get a handle on the cost of finishes. You can have a home built that’s as big as a barn very cheap, or you can build very small and very expensive. We can help you determine what the finishes you expect in your project will cost and give you alternative ideas if necessary to help you fulfill your needs.
A rule of thumb is that most average log or timber homes structural packages run anywhere from $50-$70 a square ft. add in cost of site work and utilities at about $25-$35, and finishes at $70-$110 a ft. You come out with a range of $145.00- $215.00 per sq ft. Of course on very special projects or ones with logistics issues, these numbers could be considerably higher. Another thing to consider is that 90% of the time smaller isn’t cheaper. The same steps are involved in a small project as in a medium to large project. Materials can’t be bought in bulk, staging each step of the project takes the same time as larger projects and time consumed making small decisions and choices is no less than with it’s larger counterpart. The best plan is to design around your budget.
Do I Have to Build a Log House to Get a Rustic Feel?
No. Many of our clients have opted to build more conventional homes accentuated with nonstructural beam work. These elements still give the homeowner the warm ambiance they desire without investing their total budget into the structure. This look can be achieved by mixing in well placed architectural elements throughout the building to set the mood while drawing your spaces together. Conventional construction is by far the least expensive way to go, but if your desire is to have a welcoming rustic home less expensively built there are other viable options.
Does Burk Construction Provide Consultation?
Yes. We consult with homeowners, other builders and designers all the time. Our policy is that we bill out our time to new customers for initial project consultation. Then when the project comes to fruition, Burk Construction deducts the cost of the consultation from the total project cost.
Do I Need an Architect?
Maybe! Architects play a vital role in very complicated, detailed projects. Especially when there is a lack of continuity in a project. But not all projects warrant this type of involvement to produce a great project. A good architect will be involved in the project in an intimate way, standing between the owner and the contractor and his subs. This is a consolation to some homeowners with a lot invested in their project but is not always necessary. Burk Construction has a lot of experience working with architects, engineers, and doing design builds. What ever the project size or complexity we know how to pull the right people together to give you the best experience.
Are Log Cabins and Timber Homes Energy Efficient?
Of Course! We would not have built a log cabin for our family’s home if we were going to be throwing our money out the window. Properly built log cabins and timber frame homes are unmatched in their thermal mass and R-value. All the data in the world can’t stand up to the personal experience and low energy bills that we and our clients enjoy. You will find that a home designed and constructed by Burk Construction will exceed your energy expectations.
What Does Burk Construction Include in the Packages They Provide?
Typically we or our suppliers provide “all things structural.” Every package is custom tailored to your specific needs and is never limited to a “rubber stamp” design that won’t fit your family’s lifestyle. We offer pre-engineered, pre-designed plans at a reduced cost to those that are on a tighter budget or can provide a more flexible design. But if you can’t be flexible, we will be!
A structural package would normally include: the logs, timbers, gable framing, porch roof framing, loft floor framing, rafters or trusses, structural hardware and chinking materials, and all the 2x decking to cover the porch roof deck, loft floors, and main roof decks. Sometimes we will price in the package an insulated roof system and stains, sealers, caulking, borate log treatment, and full structural installation service.
If you plan to build yourself, make sure you really understand what’s included in the package quotes you receive. Even subtle differences like pre-notched logs or precut rafters can make or break the outcome of your project. Some companies shave here and there in an attempt to “up sell” you later. You never come out ahead. We will do our very best to interpret your needs right the first time and quote you what you need and want.
What are SIPS?
SIPs (Structural Insulated Panel System) are a wonderful invention that has changed the face of the log and timber frame industry. They have been developed to do several very important things for these types of homes. First, they are unmatched in energy ratings! We can easily achieve R-values three times greater than that of a conventional home if required. Second, they have astounding structural qualities that give you greater flexibility with your design. Third, SIPS are fast! They arrive with your package and are normally installed in a couple days. In one pass you get interior framing, insulation, and the roof sheeting. On walls there is no need for studs or headers. When they are installed, you are prepped for the interior finishes.
Do Log Buildings or Timber Structures Require a lot of Maintenance?
The old saying “you get what you pay for” applies here. Wood finishes are not created equal! The more you do up front to your wood structure in the way of stains, sealers, caulking, and chinking, the less worry you will have that your investment will be protected down the road. Many homeowners make the mistake thinking these massive structures are invincible, but without armor they can’t withstand the elements. On our antique log cabins and timber frames, we use our “special” hot sealer. This sealer penetrates deep into the wood pores and repels moisture before it has a chance to set in and cause long-term damage.
On the new log cabins and timbers where the wood has a higher moisture level, we use acrylic based finishes that are more elastic and breathable. This protects the wood as it continues to cure out while providing a certain level of protection against mildew, mold, and bugs. Typically, we recommend that your structure be inspected annually for signs of deterioration or breakdown in the finishes.
As required, Burk Construction offers a maintenance service that can keep your home in top condition. Our services include: power washing, caulking, staining, sealing, chink touch up or re-chinking as required, chink paint, log end sealing, and in extreme cases complete stripping, re-staining and sealing. When staining and sealing we use NBS-30. This product helps to repel wood boring bees, wasps, ladybugs, and flies. It is not a perfect product (there isn’t one!), but it does add a degree of protection to your home.
What is the process to restore my cabin?
First you must decide the scope of work. Look at the extent of your damage and your budget. Then you need to decide on a reputable log maintenance contractor, like Burk Construction, to perform this work. Last the process includes: cleaning the structure, fixing the damage, re-staining, re-chinking, caulking, sealing, and touch-up.
When is a log to far gone to save?
Logs need attention when they can no longer do their job. Their job is to hold up the house and keep the weather out. When a log can’t do that anymore, it needs to be repaired or replaced. Because of aesthetic reasons, you might choose to replace a compromised log sooner.
It’s usually pretty easy to detect a rotted log. Most have discolored and soft areas. Some logs that are badly compromised may have missing tissue and large voids in them. Voids can be found by tapping them with a hard tool like a small hammer while listening for a thud or a hollow sound in the log.
Once you determine what logs need attention, different logs may need different repairs. A “Dutchman” is a repair that involves removing a small portion of the log and replacing it in place with a new “patch.” Full log replacement is more involved but is sometimes necessary. In this case, the entire log is removed, and then replaced with a new log.
What areas does Burk Construction provide maintenance service to?
We provide maintenance service primarily in Kentucky and Tennessee; however, we do consider other states on a case by case basis. Don’t hesitate to send us some pictures of your project, and we will call you to speak about your maintenance needs.
How often should I seal or stain my house?
Most stains are designed to last three to five years, and sealers about two to three years. However, the more exposed areas of your home or log structure may need attention annually.
Are all stains created the same or are some better than others?
You get what you pay for! Most box store stains are not suitable for log or timber homes. We use several major brand name stains that were designed for log homes and are more costly than a stain that could be purchased at Lowes. These stains hold up well to the weather. It is important to look at these products as an investment to the life of your structure. With proper application, these products protect your investment for many years to come.
What can I do to protect my home from bugs?
First, we always recommend that you maintain a contract with a reputable pest control company and have them do annual inspections. With most pest control companies after the initial inspection and treatment, then you can set your home upon an annual inspection and spray maintenance plan. Some bugs can be deterred by applying a natural bug repellent to the exterior of the house that goes on with the stain or sealer.
To chink or not chink?
If you have chinking that needs repairs but isn’t causing you any structural damage, then we may be able to patch your chinking. However, you need to know that the uv rays that your chinking absorbs daily effects it’s color. With synthetic chinking, the new patch might not match the existing chinking exactly. One option is to use a product called chink paint. Chink paint ties all the other lines in and makes the joints look new again.
If your chinking is pulled away or separated from the log in any way, this is a place where attention should be given. Those cracks allow water to enter and get trapped. This promotes rot which will quickly ruin your logs. This is an area where you need to consider re-chinking the entire structure.